DALLAS -- A mere 10 games into the season and the Dallas Mavericks are surprisingly leading the NBA in steals with 10.2 per game.
That's a monumental accomplishment for a team that's never finished higher than fourth in steals in its entire 34-year history.
Asked what he attributes his team's steals' total to, coach Rick Carlisle said: "A lot of gambling, probably. Steals can be a great thing and it also can at times mess you up if you swing and miss a lot.
"But we've got some guys with pretty good anticipation and quickness in (Monta) Ellis, and (DeJuan) Blair's gotten quite a few steals. As long as we're within our system when we''re going to for them, I'm OK -- as long as we're in a position of strength -- and generally we've been OK with that.''
The Mavs finished the 2004-'05 season and 2011-'12 season ranked fourth in the NBA in steals. In each one of those seasons they averaged 8.6 steals per contest.
The main culprit this year for the Mavs in the steals department is Blair. The backup center is tied for sixth in the NBA in steals with 2.2 per game despite playing only 21.7 minutes per game, while Ellis averages 1.7 steals per game.
"He's got long arms, he has really good anticipation and great hands,'' Carlisle said of Blair. "It's early in the year, so I'm not sure a high volumn of steals in relatively modest minutes is something that's going to hold up long-term.''
Blair said it's "pretty cool'' that the Mavs lead the league in steals.
"It's a good honor for the team,'' Blair said. "We just have to keep it up.''
Blair also noted that there's no actual formula for piling up a lot of steals other than "being in the right place at the right time.
"You have to know other team's tendencies and what they're doing and just get in the passing lanes,'' Blair added. "But it's always been something that I did.''
The Mavs (6-4), who host Philadelphia (5-6) tonight at 7:30 at American Airlines Center, just hopes their steals' numbers continue to rise at an alarming rate.
"We want guys to be aggressive when they can be, and we don't want to sit back and let opponents just come at us, come at us,'' Carlisle said. "We want to do things to get them back on their heels as well, and when guys are in good position I encourage it.''
-- Dwain Price
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